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London – Tower of London

Tower of London

The Tower is tour de force – crown jewels, gory deaths, a tour by the Yeoman Warders. In English history, the Tower of London was "home away from home." But the Tower of London wasn't just a prison – it was also a medieval palace, fortress, royal mint, armor and weapons storehouse, treasury of the crown jewels. Tons for kids to see, be sure to allow plenty of time to explore this London landmark.

Tower of London Photo Album
    The Tower of London –
   

At the Welcome Centre, pick up family trails, e.g. Medieval Palace. Family audio tours are also available.

      Tip: Skip the ticket lines with the London Pass.
   

White Tower – The White Tower, which dates back to the reign of William the Conquerer, was used to store armor and weapons. The Royal Armouries is floors full of classic armor (including fancy armor of Henry VIII) and weaponry. In the hands-on exhibits on the upper floor, kids can draw a bow, look through slits in a knight's helmet, select your weapon in 1066, pick up a musket (feel how heavy it is).

    Crown Jewels – These are the real thing, crowns, orbs and scepters set with diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, rubies, and pearls, the Koh-i-Noor diamond, and are used for coronations of the British monarchy. St. Edward's crown is the oldest crown in the collection. Buy your own crown jewels (and key chains) at the Jewel House gift shop.
   

Medieval Palace and Wall Walk – Medieval kings such as Henry III and Edward I lived at the palace (though not for very long periods of time). Edward I's bedchamber is accurately re-created, with lots of comforts such as a really large fireplace (also note the three golden lions, royal arms of England). In the next room is a replica of Henry III's throne (more lions).

    Continue walking along the crenelated wall walk, decorated with sculptures of soldiers holding pikes and crossbows. Kids can imagine defending the castle against enemy attackers.
    Royal Menagerie – For hundreds of years English kings had their own private zoo at the Tower. Henry III kept an elephant, a polar bear caught fish in the river, lions had their own tower and moat, one leopard liked to eat hats, baboons smoked tobacco in pipes, a zebra drank ale. Today there are animal sculptures around the Tower - look for an elephant, polar bear, baboons and lion.
      Tower Green – Anne Boleyn, mother of Queen Elizabeth I, lost her head on the Tower Green, as well as other royal or noble prisoners. A sign marks where a special wooden scaffold was put up for the executions.
      Bloody Tower – Find out about the story of the two princes that checked into the Tower, but didn't check out. Were they done in by their uncle Richard III, or on the orders of Henry VII? The Bloody Tower was the comfy digs of Sir Walter Raleigh, who was detained for years in the Tower.
      Torture at the Tower – Prisoners were rarely tortured at the Tower of London, but older kids can see examples of "the rack," manacles, and "Scavenger's Daughter" (body crushed in a clamp) at the Lower Wakefield Tower.
Tower of London
    Bird watchers, keep an eye out for the Tower Ravens (next to the Wakefield Tower). The ravens, each tagged with a different colored leg band, guard the tower. For centuries, the ravens have inhabited the Tower, and according to legend, if the ravens depart, Britain will collapse. Please don't feed the birds.
    Live events – Check out the schedule of live events, daily and on weekends, such as siege engine demonstrations, artisans making medieval coins, historical re-enactments, changing of the ceremonial sentries. Here's the schedule.
       
london wall tower hill
 

London Wall – When you step out of the Tower Hill subway, the first thing kids will see is a section of wall, originally built by the Romans around 200 AD. The Roman wall would have been 35 ft high, then built up higher in the medieval period. The Roman wall is identifiable with the layers of red tilework.

    In front of the wall is a bronze statue of the Emperor Trajan.
    Tower Bridge – Close by to the Tower of London is the Tower Bridge, a distinctive London landmark. Climb up the North tower for a great view of the Thames and city. Then run along the walkways (new glass floor, so you can see river below) to the South tower and the Tower Bridge Museum which has original bridge machinery.
family tours london

Explore the fabulous Crown Jewels and secrets of the Tower of London, not just kings, princes, famous prisoners, but also the ravens and animals. Take a two hour tour with stories and games for kids and parents together:

    Centuries of Secrets at the Tower of London
family travel tools london

Instead of waiting in ticket lines, save your time for exploring the Tower of London. Buy your tickets in advance, and skip the lines:

Tower of London Tickets
kids books tower of  london
     
Henry VIII history kids tower london  
Henry VIII (Brilliant Brits)
Richard Brassey

Humorous history of Henry VIII, including people he had imprisoned and beheaded at the Tower of London (two wives, two chief ministers) and more fun facts about his many castles and six wives. (Picture book)

 

     
Doomed Queen Anne (Young Royals)
Carolyn Meyer

Fascinating novel of Anne Boleyn, the dark-haired beauty who snared Henry VIII to become wife number two, and mother of Queen Elizabeth I. She didn't remain queen for long – in short order she was sentenced, sent to the Tower of London and beheaded on the Tower Green. (Chapter book)

 

 
Doomed Queen Anne historical fiction kids tower london
     
Sent history adventur tower london kids
 
Sent (The Missing)
Margaret Peterson Haddix

Two missing children from history, the princes Edward and Richard, travel back in time to the Tower of London in 1483. Were the princes killed in the tower, and why? Action-packed fantasy adventure in 15th century England. (Chapter book)

 

     
Tower Power
Elizabeth Newbery

Read history and tales from the Tower of London, mighty fortress and palace, who attacked, who "disappeared" or lost their heads, who tried to steal the crown jewels. (Illustrated chapter book)

Not available online, buy at the Tower of London store when you visit.

 

 
(More children's books on other London and England pages)
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